Wisconsin farmers hope to raise millions in Industrial Hemp sales

CUSTER, Wis. (WSAW) -- Wisconsin’s second Hemp harvest season is officially underway and according to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Agency (DATCP), there’s been a huge increase in licensed farmers.

Industrial Hemp farming was originally banned in Wisconsin because of how closely it resembles Marijuana. 2018 was the first year farmers could regrow the crop since the 1950s, however, many farmers were skeptical to take the risk without fully understanding how to keep the THC levels under 0.3%.

“It was up until the 1950’s that Wisconsin was a national leader in growing and processing Hemp,” stated Brad Pfaff, Secretary-Designee for DATCP. “We had nearly 1,500 farmers reach out and sought application licenses in order to grow Hemp this year. We also had close to 750 processors looking to process Hemp.”

According to State Senator Patrick Testin, more than $500 million of Industrial Hemp is imported from places like Canada, China, and India. DATCP hopes to keep some of that money here in Wisconsin for local farmers.

Local farmers like 22-year-old, Logan Brice, recently purchased land in Portage County with a group of eight other friends. This is their first year harvesting Industrial Hemp.

“We decided to grow Hemp this year to diversify our income,” Brice said. “There are hundreds of thousands of dollars just in this quarter archer of what we grew here,” he added as he looked around his new farm.

Most farmers are delayed in planting their Hemp because of the weather. Luckily, Brice grew his Hemp in a greenhouse and recently planted it outside so his plants are well developed.

Here are the current DATCP numbers of farmers in north central Wisconsin planting Hemp:

Lincoln County: Three processors, seven growers, and a total of 54 acres.
Marathon County: 17 Processors, 44 growers, and a total of 375 acres.
Oneida County: Seven growers and a total of 12 acres.
Portage County: 12 processors, 22 growers, and a total of 157 acres.
Wood County: 12 processors, 28 growers, and a total of seven acres.

These numbers are more than triple compared to last year’s numbers. DATCP says before the farmers are allowed to sell their crop, an independent test must be conducted to make sure the THC levels are below 0.3%.